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How to play Cluedo: board game’s rules, setup and how to win explained

Keep the mystery in the murder, not the rules.
Image: stock.adobe.com/ink drop

Cluedo - or Clue, if you’re in the US - is the ultimate board game murder mystery, and has been for over 70 years now. If you’re looking for how to play Cluedo for the first or fortieth time, you’re in the right place.

The classic board game throws players into a tense whodunnit as they race to work how the owner of a mansion was killed. It’s the players’ job to investigate suspects - including their fellow guests - possible murder weapons and the scene of the crime, before finally revealing the solution they believe to be correct.

How to play Cluedo

Since its original release shortly after World War II, Cluedo has become a true tabletop classic thanks to its simple yet compelling gameplay. Characters such as Professor Plum and Miss Scarlett have become iconic parts of pop culture, along with the cry of accusations like: “It was Colonel Mustard in the billiard room with the candlestick!”

The board game has seen a number of revisions and spin-offs over the decade, and even a film adaptation starring Tim Curry, but Cluedo’s rules still remain largely untouched - meaning that learning how to play Cluedo is just as easy as it ever was.

Whether you’re preparing for a bit of festive fun over the holidays or just looking to break out a family favourite from the game cupboard on a rainy Sunday, read on to learn how to play Cluedo according to its classic rules.

How to play Cluedo

What do you do in Cluedo?

In Cluedo, players take on the role of guests investigating the murder of Dr. Samuel Black (if you’re playing Cluedo in the UK) or Mr. Boddy (for those playing Clue in the US) in his mansion.

As well as being the investigators of the crime, the characters are also suspects in the murder - they must race to be first to work out who the murderer is, what weapon they used and where the murder took place.

To eliminate suspects, weapons and rooms, the characters must move around the mansion, entering rooms and asking questions to work out the correct solution. Once they believe they know the solution, they can make a final accusation and see if they were right.


How many people can play Cluedo?

Up to six people can play Cluedo. The minimum number of players depends on the exact edition, with some copies supporting just two players and others requiring at least three.


How long does Cluedo take to play?

Cluedo takes up to an hour to play. The exact time can depend on how quickly players solve the mystery - which can change based on what they roll and the cards they start with.

Players must race to find the solution to the murder by identifying the right suspect, weapon and room. Image: stock.adobe.com/dvlcom

Cluedo setup

First, put all of the weapon tokens in the middle of the board. Place the characters on their labelled starting squares, or in the middle of the board if there are no labelled starting squares on your board. You should use all of the tokens - six weapons and six characters - regardless of how many players there are.

Each player should choose who they want to play as. The current Cluedo characters in the Classic Mystery Game edition are:

  • Reverend Green (UK)/Mr. Green (US)
  • Mrs. Peacock
  • Miss Scarlett
  • Professor Plum
  • Colonel Mustard
  • Dr. Orchid

In 2016, Dr. Orchid replaced the character of Mrs. White seen in older editions of Cluedo.

Separate the 21 black Clue cards by type: weapon, suspect or room. There are six weapons, six suspects and nine rooms. Shuffle each deck individually and put them facedown on the table next to the board.

Draw the top card from each deck without looking at them and put them in the envelope. These cards are the solution to the murder the players must solve! Put the murder envelope to the side.

Combine the remaining weapon, suspect and room cards into a single deck and give it a really good shuffle.

The classic Cluedo suspects - one of them is the murderer! Image: stock.adobe.com/Jackie Davies

Deal all of the cards out to the players so everyone has the same number of cards. If this leaves you with a couple of leftover cards, put them to the side of the board faceup so everyone can see them. Players should keep their hand of cards hidden from their opponents.

Give every player a clue sheet and a pen/pencil. If you don’t have any clue sheets, there is an official app - or just use a piece of paper to keep track. The players should cross off the cards they have in their hand and any faceup clue cards on the table - they know that these cannot be the weapon, suspect or room involved in the murder.

If you have a newer edition of Cluedo, it might include an extra deck of Bonus cards. To use the Bonus cards, shuffle the 13 red Bonus cards and place them in a faceup deck next to the board. These optional cards are drawn and activated when a player lands on a bonus space marked with a red ? symbol. To play standard Cluedo using its classic rules, do not include the bonus cards and ignore the bonus spaces.

Every player should roll the dice to decide who goes first, with the highest number taking the first turn. After that, play moves clockwise - so the person to your left goes next.

You’re ready to play!

Maddie recommends some detective board games to play if you love Cluedo.

Cluedo rules

On their turn, each player first rolls the two dice to see how far they move around the mansion, travelling along corridors and into rooms. Characters must move forward, backward, left and right between squares on the board - they can’t move diagonally.

Players can use their entire movement value, or just part of it if a lower number will reach the room they are aiming for. If a player’s character token was moved by another player between their turns (for example, when involved in a question), on their next turn they may instead choose to not move and ask a question in their current location.

Instead of rolling the dice, if the player is in a room with a secret passage or that joins directly to another room via a doorway, they can move into the connected room at the start of their turn. They do not roll the dice - once you enter a new room, your movement ends - and can then ask a question about the room they just entered.

If you are using the red Bonus cards, players can draw a card when they stop on the red ? spaces. They must read the top card aloud and resolve its effects, before discarding it. If a player chooses not to draw a Bonus card, they can continue moving without stopping on the space.

The exact rooms and layout of the Cluedo board can vary between editions, but the gameplay remains almost identical. Image: Hasbro

If you entered a room on this turn (or if you haven’t moved from the room you were moved to between turns), you can ask a question to eliminate cards from the possible murder solution. When asking a question, you must ask about one suspect, one weapon and the room your character is currently in. For example, “Was it Professor Plum with the Lead Pipe in the Bedroom?” The tokens representing the weapon and character you named - even if they are controlled by another player - move to your current room.

After asking the question, the other players take it in turns - starting with the person on your left and going clockwise - to answer your question. If a player does not have any of the cards, they must tell you they can’t answer and the question passes to the next player. Players must tell the truth.

If a player has a card that matches the suspect, weapon or room you named, they must reveal the card to you - without showing the other players. If the player has more than one matching card, they only reveal one card.

Once one card has been revealed to you, your turn ends - you do not get to ask the remaining players. When you see a card that’s not in the envelope, cross it off your clue sheet - you know it can’t be part of the solution. (This means if you name a suspect, weapon and room, and nobody can answer - and you don’t have those cards - that’s the solution.)

Players can ask questions about the room they are in, plus any weapon and suspect. Image: stock.adobe.com/Chris

How to win Cluedo

To win Cluedo, you must correctly solve the murder of Dr. Black/Mr. Boddy by identifying the correct weapon, suspect and room. In short: whodunnit, where they dunnit and what they dunnit with.

The solution to the murder is represented by the three clue cards placed in the yellow envelope during setup. By eliminating possible clues held in their own hand and the hands of their opponents by asking questions, players can eventually work out the correct solution.

The six Cluedo suspects are:

  • Reverend Green (UK)/Mr. Green (US)
  • Mrs. Peacock
  • Miss Scarlett
  • Professor Plum
  • Colonel Mustard
  • Dr. Orchid (Mrs. White in older editions)

The six Cluedo weapons are:

  • Rope
  • Dagger/Knife
  • Wrench/Spanner
  • Pistol/Revolver
  • Candlestick
  • Lead Pipe

The nine Cluedo rooms are:

  • Study
  • Ballroom
  • Kitchen
  • Hall
  • Billiard Room
  • Conservatory
  • Dining Room
  • Library
  • Lounge

Some modern editions also include rooms such as a bathroom, courtyard, bedroom, garage, living room, kitchen and game room instead of the classic Cluedo rooms.

To make a guess at the solution, the player must move to the space in the middle of the board - typically represented by a cellar or stairs - and make their accusation out loud. Normally, something like: “I accuse [suspect] with the [weapon] in the [room]!”

Once their accusation has been made, the player checks the cards in the envelope - without letting the other players see. If they’re correct, they reveal the cards matching their guess and win the game.

If they get one or more of the cards wrong, the player is eliminated; they must return the cards to the envelope without giving any suggestion as to which they guessed incorrectly. They cannot make any more accusations or ask any more questions, but continue to keep their hand of cards hidden and answer other players’ questions.

If every player guesses incorrectly, everybody loses and the murder goes unsolved.

If a player gets one of the details wrong in their accusation, they are eliminated - so guess carefully! Image: stock.adobe.com/Jackie Davies

How to play Cluedo with two players

You can easily play Cluedo with two players, or in teams, by making a series of simple changes to the game’s setup and gameplay rules:

When setting up the game, before dealing the combined deck of Clue cards to the players, place the four top cards from the deck facedown next to the board without looking at them.

If your edition of Cluedo has the red Bonus cards, remove them - they are not used with two players or teams. Ignore the red bonus spaces on the board.

During the game, players can ask questions about their opponents’ cards like normal. When a player can’t answer, the asker can instead look at one of the four facedown cards next to the board without showing it to their opponents. The card must go back in the same position, so that the player can look at a different card each time.


Can you play Cluedo more than once?

Because the suspect, weapon and room cards in the envelope are picked randomly and change every game, the solution to Cluedo’s murder mystery changes each time you play.

This means that you can easily play Cluedo more than once, because it’s very unlikely you’ll have the same solution twice in a row - and, even if you do, you won’t know it’s the same until it’s revealed.

About the Author

Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis

Editor-in-chief

After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.

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